Mechtild (mechtild) wrote,

Frodo Art Manip: Frodo in "The Musicians", by Caravaggio, plus a new poem by jan-u-wine.


Frodo in The Musicians, teaser crop

I've wanted to make a Frodo manip out of this painting for a long time. It's been in my "possibles" file for years. But I never found a face that I thought fit with it. Finally I think I have.

The resulting image is rather fanciful, if thought of as a portrait of Frodo. What could be the setting? I sent the image off to jan-u-wine in the winter to see if she might want to write to it. I laughed, "Maybe he's at a toga party at Brandy Hall?" Or maybe he had been asked to sing in the Hall of Fire in Rivendell. "Sing us a song, tell us a tale, Frodo, son of Drogo!" He would say, "yes", like a good-mannered guest should. Perhaps a tale of the First Age, something full of delight, not sorrow, a tale of the Spring of Arda. "Come," he'd say to his friends, "we need to practice". Hence the pages of music lying about, the violin not yet picked up, the lute still being tuned, the whole "rehearsal" look of the scene. But whatever are the other hobbits wearing? Costumes scraped together from Elves' spare linens? I loved the manip, but could not fit it into Frodo's story as a literal illustration.

Jan-u-wine, it turned out, saw something very different in the image. She saw Frodo, post-Quest, asked to sing and play, not at a Hall of Fire or even the King's table, but an anonymous tavern in Minas Tirith. Jostling in the press of celebrants in the City's lower levels, after the first mugs raised in his honour, perhaps his celebrity could be forgotten in the slosh of drink. Perhaps he could feel like his old self, if he still had an "old self", in the noise and sweat and smoke of a close-packed crowd of hallooing and shouting foot-soldiers, stall-keepers, farmers, stable boys, pick-pockets and thieves, laughing and calling out for tales and songs. Frodo knew some songs. And one can lose oneself in singing.

I'll let Jan speak for herself, regarding Frodo in Minas Tirith. Jan-u-wine wrote,

In his journey, in his Quest, it seems to me that Frodo did not, indeed, look to events that would occur *after*. His whole will was bent towards his goal, and he likely felt that he would not live for there to be any *after*. The shock of being alive and yet so very damaged must have been another burden to be endured, with the attending fêting of himself as a hero adding to his discomfort.. That Frodo did not think himself a hero, we know. That he believed he failed we also know. Worst of all, he believed himself to be a "moral" failure. Being honoured at Cormallen must have seemed a fraud to him. Like any other returning soldier, he would no doubt have liked to simply have had, as his reward, to be "home" again. But what we and what Frodo mean when we say "home" is not simply a comfy hobbit-hole. No, *we* are part of this picture, *we* as we are in our best and most happy times. Frodo could never, thus, really return to his home.


Elements of the manip.

Source painting: Caravaggio's "The Musicians", 1596.

Note: For more about Caravaggio, see previous Art Travesty entries: 'The Lute Player', Narcissus and The Cardsharps . For more about this painting, go to Wikipedia's article, here

Face: Frodo in Bag End, FotR:

Finished manip.

Full image:

Frodo in The Musicians, full image

Enlargement, cropped:

Frodo in The Musicians, greater enlargement, cropped

In the City of the King

A cold wind
has found the City
this day,

a wind smelling of Sea-salt
and glass-green spray,

a knife-wind,
the ice-blade of it

against ruined

voice keening,


upon empty battlements.


a Ranger

before these gates....

a King


pale and gold
as fair mallorn,

played like watered silk
upon the high Tower,

blushed rose from wall
and street and throng'd turret....

caught crystal

from a jewell'd crown.

A ruled (and unruly) joy followed,
song flowing like star-lit silver,

wine staining streets which had of late
known only the heated spill of blood.

And I.

I can not get the sense of it,
this City.....

this King....


Beneath the unblinking eye
of a gilded Sun,

beneath the searching fingers of
the Sea-driven wind,

I no longer find my own


And the voices.

The living voices,
with their joy'd burden
of wonder,

fall like a dark, bitter rain
upon my ear.



The Ringbearer.

Moreso now than even before.

In these days
of peace,

in these hours
of celebration,

in these

of joy,
there are yet

for even he who

Frodo of the Shire.

Within the seventh level
of this City,

there stays a great hall,

a hall
wherein high tales

and the King's own wine
flow equally.

It is not to this hall I am bound.

Upon a scarred and winding street
of the first level
waits a door.

Perhaps I shall find myself,

its riven face.


A certain quiet

within the clamour
of this place,

boisterous bids for
food and drink

falling, at the last,
to uneven silence.

More uneven, yet, my hand,

the space this un-fingered

opens within my self.


there *is* the music,
pushing, tender

upon the dark-distanc'd places of my mind,
gentling my hand upon

sombr'd strings,

quickening my fingers
about their work,

(four fingers
clever enough

to twine a phrase,

chords and single notes

sweet upon smoke-heavy air.

in the

in the


there is a learning,
a knowing,

that touches

than this

marred hand.

A great yearning


for all the ghost'd
people and places

of late gone missing,
fills me,

voices of shadow'd memory

like the deep-hidden pools
of the Brandywine on a slow
summer day.

There is joy in this playing,

in these small remembrances,

in *this*,

my life.

Author's Note:

While working on this poem, researching events immediately leading up to Aragorn's coronation, I began to wonder about Frodo's well-being in the month that followed the destruction of the Ring. Unlike movie-verse, which reunites the hobbits in Minas Tirith (the Eagles surely had their work cut out for them!), Frodo and Sam wake in Ithilien, upon the Field of Cormallen. Scarce a month passes between the events on Mt. Doom and their departure to Minas Tirith, a month of rest and healing for Frodo, but also a month during which his original joy and relief in being rid of his burden might begin to be overshadowed by grief and growing uncertainty. Then - a voyage, by boat, away from the relative quiet and perhaps home-like feel of Ithilien. As much as this voyage was one of ending AND beginning for Aragorn, so it must have been for Frodo, as well. What should his fate be? Should he be, again, *simply* Frodo of the Shire, or would he always bear what must have seemed the dubious honour of being the Ringbearer? Aragorn journeyed towards the reuniting of his house and kingdom, as well as his marriage, certainly all joyous events. What did Frodo journey towards, what were his feelings as all around him celebrated the return of the King, the return of *normalcy* to their lives and world?

Previous art manip entry:

~ Sweerts, Michael: 'Self-portrait', plus jan-u-wine's "At the Last", 1-30-10.

Tables of Links:

~ Frodo Art Travesty LJ entries (manip presentations).

~ Album of all Frodo Art Travesties (images only—be sure to enlarge images after opening).

~ All entries featuring jan-u-wine's poems.
Tags: art, art manips, caravaggio, frodo art travesties, frodo manips, jan-u-wine

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